Matthew Neville

Holiday cottage rental agency cosies up with sustainable cabin operator

Sykes Holiday Cottages, an independent holiday cottage rental agency, is acquiring a controlling stake in Forest Holidays, the UK’s leading owner and operator of environmentally sensitive cabins, in order to accelerate its ambition to become a leading UK-focused holiday group with a diverse range of unique rental accommodation.

Sykes shares Forest Holidays’ approach to sustainable tourism which strives to have a positive impact on the planet and local communities whilst providing memorable shared experiences for its customers. The combined business will be united by a common purpose to “bring further benefits to nature, people and local communities”.

Forest Holidays is the owner and operator of environmentally sensitive cabins set across Britain’s forests. Since the mid-1970s, the company has “sensitively” created cabins under the guiding principles of sustainable woodland use and the preservation of the countryside and biodiversity.

To date, Forest Holidays has invested over £100m into Britain’s forests, increasing recreational use, improving facilities, and creating and maintaining trails.

Forest Holidays has 12 forest locations with many in National Parks and “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, including the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Scotland and opening later this year in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

As part of the combination, Forest Holidays’ existing institutional investor group, which is led by Phoenix Equity Partners and includes LDC, will realise their successful investment. Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland and Natural Resources Wales will divest their legacy minority stake.

Sykes, whose platform provides access to over 22,500 holiday homes, is the UK’s fastest-growing holiday cottage rental agency. The business is backed by Vitruvian Partners. The two businesses will be run independently by their existing leadership teams under a newly formed parent company.

Graham Donoghue, CEO of Sykes, said: “As the UK’s leading provider of woodland accommodation, Forest Holidays is the perfect complement to our existing holiday cottage rental business, offering our respective customers an unrivalled choice and quality of accommodation across a variety of settings.

“We’ve been impressed by what Bruce McKendrick and his team have achieved and are excited by our common purpose with a focus on environment, local and rural communities at the core of our businesses.”

Bruce McKendrick, CEO of Forest Holidays, added: “Forest Holidays has always sought to balance social, environmental and economic benefit. The benefits we bring to physical and mental well-being are more important than ever and in Sykes we have found a partner who shares this ethos.”

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